Emmanuelle is the first and most infamous of the French softcore-porn series about a young woman's awakening to new sexual dimensions. Sylvia Kristel became a star with her portrayal of Emmanuelle, the suppressed wife of a diplomat. By virtue of her husband's profession, Emmanuelle is introduced to any number of handsome, virile men and beautiful, adventurous women, all more than willing to escort the sheltered young lady to the farthest reaches of sensuality. Nudity and eroticism abounds in Emmanuelle, but the sex scenes are discreetly photographed (shadows and elusive camera angles predominate) to evoke eroticism and suggestiveness in lieu of raunch. As the Emmanuelle series dragged on, the sex became more perfunctory and the storylines overladen with gimmicks; this film is comparatively basic and straightforward. Emmanuelle is based on the allegedly autobiographical book by Emmanuelle Arsan.
by Hal Erickson synopsis